For my Retail Beverage Shop visit, I went to Astor Wine and Spirits and Union Square wine. Both retail stores had similarities as well as differences. Union Square wine was my first wine store visit, I was extremely excited because now that I study wine and have the knowledge of what to look for it makes it much more interesting. USW was a medium size store where they had a glass door entrance with their logo in red. When I entered there was a lady at the information desk who greeted me and asked how can she help. I told her the purpose for my visit and I proceeded asking how is the layout of the store, is it by region or by grape variety. I was then advised to have a look around and the wines will be categorized by regions. The wine bottles were displayed by categories. They were set up with the high price wines at the top and the inexpensive wines at the bottom. They also had a Japanese wine section called Fukushima. USW carries canned, bottled and boxed package wine. They did not have recommended wines nor “shelf talker” however they had a featured section. It was very slow because there was only one other customer beside myself. Overall, I found USW to be simple and did not have a lot to offer such as tasting menus. Since I did not like my experience at USW a fellow HMGT student recommended me to Astor Wines and Spirits. When I walked in Astor Wines and Spirits, it felt like a supermarket because there were many signs, shopping carts, cashiers, and refrigerated areas. They sell other products such as wine openers, ice trays and wine bags for storage and gifting. I spoke to a friendly employee and asked her about their delivery services. I was curious about the procedures for ordering online because they had a delivery section. There is no need for a store visit when you can shop online. That’s if you study wine of course. The tasting area caught my attention because they had a calendar to inform their customers with upcoming tasting events. With wine tasting it allows guests to sample and choose their favorites, rather than making a blind purchase not knowing what to expect. I really enjoyed my experience at Astor Wines and Spirits because of the selection of wines from regions such as France, Italy and Spain.
I have visited Astor Wines & Spirits which is located in neighborhood of a lots of Italian restaurants. This shop is so organized and set up in the way made easier for customer to find their desire wine.
Each of every section had a sign on top, explaining what kind of region of wine, and they were separated by types of wine (red, white, sparkling and etc…). Not only that, they have Champagne section, Half bottle, Dessert wine, and a clearance section, which wines are on the sale.
And when you take a closer look in to each sections of wine, there is a little note call “staff pick” which are written by staff of the shop, recommending their favorite wine for customers. Which I felt like a guest interaction for those who are not sure what to buy.
Walking around the shop, it was little difficult to find and have any staff to ask question because they were preparing for an event coming up (they plan out a lot of events of all different categories of wine). But one of the most experienced staff was nice enough to walk to me, and spend more than 20 minute for me to answer my question.
I wanted to know about their marketing strategies. In order to keep large wine shop, there must be efficient way to make customers comeback. He have explained to me, that the most important strategy is to build up a good relationship with producers and vendors. Because of that strong relationship, they could always have high quality of wines, and it rarely happens for them to return a bottles of wine.
Next step is relationship with guest. Like I have mentioned before, they a lot of events by different categories of wine. For example, one day, there will be more southern French wines display and will be on sale. It attracts customer to focus in certain wine, and become a fan of it.
They also send out email to their every customers about new wines, on sale wines, and the wines they customers requested for or a repeatedly bought wine.
Lastly, he wanted people to know, how so many great quality of wines are being underestimated because of popularity of producer. Small producers of wines are mostly made by hand with so much of effort, but because of small amounts of wines are produced, they don’t get so popular.
Grand Wine & Liquor
I didn’t really like the outside view of the shop because it doesn’t look like a wine shop. In my honest opinion, It looked like a boring looking grocery store, until you look up to the writing and see the “Grand Wine and Liquor” and the little wine bottles drawing.
But as I entered the store, I can see that the shop was huge, has a lot of space and friendly employees. All the employees greeted me and smiled, which I loved because not a lot of shops actually have employees that nice nowadays. I first took a look around the shop, then I was approached by an employee asking me if I needed any help, I told him I wanted to speak to the owner or someone in charge, he said sure and walked to the back room. A few seconds later a man in a suit stepped out and greeted me and I told him about my analysis and if I could ask him a few questions, he said yes of course. And I went on by asking him, how did this shop happen/open? He said his great grandfather, Jake Battipaglia, opened this shop 75 years ago, and it is still up and running. His great grandfather was an immigrant from Greece, who came to America for a better job and life for him and his family. I also asked him how long did he study wine and why did he, he said he’s been studying wine for all of his life because he grew up with it being the family business and that he has a wine doctorate. Another question I had for him was “if a wine was not selling as you wanted it too, what would you do?”. He said that they would discontinue the wine or mark it down or put it on sale to get all the remaining wines out of the store and then he would never order that wine again.
After he answered my questions, I asked him to just show me around the shop and to show me the wines I had to take pictures of. The shop’s wines were organized by country and within each country, the red and white wines were separated.
Wine # 1 – Shelf Talker
Wine # 2 – Red Wine from Spain
Wine # 3 – Sparkling Wine not from France
Wine # 4 – Red wine from a region I did not know made wine.
Upon visiting Morrell & Company’s store located at 1 Rockefeller Plaza, it struck me as if I have been there before or at least have seen it. That is of course because it is just a few feet away from the iconic Rockefeller Center Ice skating rink. Amongst the well-known flags and the tons of people, I had walked into Morrel Wines and was greeted by the manager, Michael Shef. Mister Shef was one of the most hospitable and friendly people you would want to meet, ready to guide me around the store and answer all of my questions. We had then sat down in his office and I asked a few questions regarding wines and Morrell’s overall business practices. I had started off with “You have been in business a very long time, what is your mission statement? What do you believe makes you different from other wine and spirit retailers ?” Mr. Shef responded with “We have been in business for seventy-five years so we have longevity on our side. We have a lot of relationships with multiple suppliers from the U.S and overseas. Also having the privilege of doing business with certain purveyors that others wouldn’t have the opportunity to because of our longevity.”
Mentioning that they deal with vineyards from France, Germany, Italy as well as Jerusalem and other European and American countries, they sell rare whiskeys and spirits as well, worth thousands of dollars. I couldn’t help but wonder, “Who is apart of your customer demographic?” He responded “All kinds, mostly tourists during the holiday season and corporate people. We are fortunate enough to be in a location in which we supply wine to a lot of offices and businesses around the Midtown area as well as having a drag of tourists during the holiday season coming into the store and wanting to buy wine. So we have a lot of people coming in to get some wine for business parties and other occasions.” I had then asked, “If you ever discover a wine fault or defect in a certain batch of wine, what are the steps you take to ratify it?” Michael said, “If we know immediately, we will get rid of it, or if a client comes in and says it, we will swap it out for a new one. If they don’t trust it, we will try and find something else to give to our customer. If its a case of batches we will have to pull them off of the shelf and have a conversation with our purveyors.” Micheal, being in the business for a great amount of time, has worked mostly in front-of-house positions prior to becoming a sommelier.
Then we had taken a look around in search of the bottles of wine that I needed to take photographs of. In terms of the attributes of the store are first, Morrell & Company is a seasoned business. As mentioned earlier on, they have been in business for over seventy-five years, making them practically a household name in terms of New York wine and spirit stores. Making them a well-known brand and having a reputation for providing exceptional wine and spirits. They also have a fabulous location, amongst some of the wealthiest businesses and corporate companies in the Midtown area. With NBC a few blocks away and tourists within blocks of them, Morrell is fortunate to receive a heavy fluctuation of people looking for their wines. An aspect of their business that could be considered both an attribute and a weakness is that the store is relatively small. It could be an attribute in a sense of that it is more intimate, focusing on the customer and the customer knows that they are receiving small stocks of quality wine. It also can be deemed a weakness in that it is small enough that they do not have enough space for stock and certain wines are unavailable or has a high chance of never receiving that vintage again. Good news for the business in a profit sense but bad news for the customer who lost out on an amazing Chablis or Cabernet Sauvignon from a great harvest.
Overall if you want to visit a quaint, well-known Wine and Spirits store while in Midtown, Morell & Company is the place to go. They have some of the nicest wine and it is sold by the nicest people. You can also visit the Morrel & Company Cafe that is attached to the store. Where you can stop by to eat after buying a bottle of wine, they also offer wine tastings and go into further detail on their website, morrellwine.com. The store overall is a relaxing, attractive and amazing space to visit for a person who studies wine or happens to be in the market for some rare, pricey whiskey!
“Unique” and “Intimate” are some of the words that come to mind when thinking of “Thirst Wine Merchants”, which is located in downtown Brooklyn. When deciding where I wanted to emphasize my wine research, I came to the conclusion that I wanted to visit a place that stands out not by quantity of selections but by quality of the wines provided. This is when
“Thirst Wine Merchants” became my number one choice.
Noah who is a sales representative at “Thirst Wine Merchants”, was able to answer all questions I had about the business and beyond. He had previously worked at a vineyard site, which allows him to have extensive knowledge about the vinification and viticulture procedures for some of the wines that they carry.
When browsing the shop, I realized that they do not have much “shelf talker” wines. Noah later explained that they do not follow “shelf talker” procedures being that they prefer the personal one on one conversations with their guest about the wines. They believe that through speaking to each individual guest about the wine, it is more likely for the guest to purchase the wine. There happened to be one example of a shelf talker that day:
Noah kindly introduced me to one of their Red wine from Valle De La Orotava, Spain. This wine is produced by Dolores Cabrera Fernandez, whom he highly recommends wine from. Surprisingly, this is one of their most selling red wine from Spain at a cost of $23 dollars per bottle.
As I continued to browse the store, I realized that there were wine tastings taking place. That’s when I came across the Jour Fixe, which is a sparkling wine that comes from Germany. It was amazing to see that the dominant white grape variety in Germany was also being used for a sparkling wine. Again, Noah explained that this was a common purchased wine.
After learning of so many different wine regions, the most surprising one was Georgia. Being that I did not grow up with family drinking wine, I had minimal knowledge before taking this course. I was always aware that European countries have mass production of wine, everything outside of that was rare. Noah and Haley who is another sales associate informed me that although it is not sold as often, wines from Georgia are very unique due to its historical content and quality of the grapes.
Overall, what I captured from my visit to Thirst Wine Merchants is that their service is highly personalized and focuses on determining exactly what fits best according to the guest preferences and needs. The staff at this retail shop is well rounded and knowledgeable about all the wines that they carry. They are also well educated and were able to answer all questions regarding their target market, purchasing decisions, etc. Catering to a market of people from ages 26-42, management at Thirst Wine Merchants strive to accommodate their guest with high quality wine ranging from $26 dollars to $199 per bottle. While keeping sustainable practices within their establishment (by carrying all organic wines), Thirst Wine Merchants makes a great impact on society and those who they surround. Everything was extraordinary and I would not change a thing about my experience.
I began my quest in Mitchell’s Wine & Liquors Store On 86th & Amsterdam by first seeking a ‘red wine from a region that I didn’t know made wine’. I stumbled upon this Syrah wine from Israel, which caught me by surprise. Typically, you’d think of wine coming from France, Italy, Spain and Germany. The reason this wine caught me by surprise is because not only is it considered “kosher”, it is from a primarily Islamic are, where drinking is considered ‘Haram’.
Next, I captured a picture of a ‘shelf talker’. This shelf talker is basically a review from the Wine Enthusiast guide, critiquing a Pinot Noir from the Russian River Valley. A 94, according to the Wine Enthusiast guide means the wine is a wine of superior character and style. The red colored bold font is source, the date the source was issued and the score. I’m not entirely sure what the ‘En Route’ meant but I do know that ‘Les Pommiers’ means apple tree. I do not know the significance of the apple tree to this region or wine.
This is a sparkling wine from a region other than France- Barcelona, Spain. The Vintage of this wine is 2015. This a Spanish Champagne (Cava), using the Traditional Method.
This is a red wine from Spain. The region in which the wine came from is the Rioja region. The The climate of this region is Mediterranean with much rainfall. The grape variety of this wine is Tempranillo and the vintage is 2014.
Overall, I must say my experience was mediocre. The manager of the shop was indeed present but did not know much English, therefore it was very hard for me to ask questions. I even tried to call before visiting to inform the shop workers that I was going to visit and our phone call was cut short due to the language barrier. I asked if there was a cellar on site and the answer was no. One of the employees, who know some English told me that there was just large wine fridges in the basement and that the small retail area would not allow for a cellar. Another question I attempted to ask was, “which factors were present when selecting their wines?”. As I suspected, the answer was trends. For example, since 86th Street is primarily known as a Jewish community, there you will find he “Halal Wine”. When I asked how the Halal wine was made, the employee could not inform me.